The formation of Deutsch Direct comes a week and a half before the New York agency makes its final presentations for American Honda Motor Co.'s $120 million account, which has a direct component.
OTHER HONDA CONTENDERS
Other agencies participating in that review are Omnicom Group's Fathom, Los Angeles, the incumbent; and Rubin Postaer & Associates and Suissa Miller, both Santa Monica, Calif.
Deutsch CEO Donny Deutsch said the new operation "won't hurt" that pitch but added "we didn't do it because of that."
Bobbi Casey Howell has joined the agency as a senior VP responsible for the unit. Ms. Howell comes from Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York, where she most recently served as an account director for its BellSouth business.
Ms. Howell will participate in the Acura presentation.
A direct marketing operation "is the price of entry," Mr. Deutsch said. "In almost every new-business pitch today direct is a part of it. It is as important or more so than having a media unit."
NO ASSIGNMENTS YET
While Ms. Howell said the unit isn't working on specific assignments yet, Deutsch handles several clients that use direct marketing as part of their strategies, including Ikea U.S., Lenscrafters, Prudential Securities and Schieffelin & Somerset Co.'s Tanqueray brand.
Deutsch's direct division will work with the agency's interactive unit, according to Esther Lee, exec VP-director of client services.
"We will be merging those groups at some future point," Ms. Lee said. "But right now we'll work on our own...When we talk to our consumer clients, direct and interactive strategies don't always come up in the same conversation."